Might contain spoilers.
Here’s an old favourite that remains excellent 17 years later, dated visual effects and all. I still feel a thrill when Will discovers his superpowers, and the way the floor ripples in response to his punches never fails to impress. The bad kids—Penny, Lash, Speed—might never get any character development and Jim Rash’s Stitches can be summed up in a word as ‘oddball’, but the story is never nasty or mean, which is an important part of its charm. It shows an unerring devotion to comic book hijinks and images alongside all the amusingly effective tilted cinematography.
Kurt Russell shines as Steve and The Commander, the world’s greatest but not brightest superhero; while his repeated linguistic stumbles make me giggle, his best moments are his transparent petulance over Will not going to the homecoming dance (keeping him from going) and the early conversation about a vat of toxic waste. Although Kelly Preston predictably doesn’t have as much to do as Josie and Jetstream, she’s far from redundant, and makes for a believably dashing superhero and mother. Contrast Danielle Panabaker in her forgettable, thankless role as Layla.
I most recently saw Steven Strait in Magic City (a better show than I expected, though not one that held my attention for long). He’s good in Sky High, but he’s come a long way since then. No surprise that he was a model before he became an actor, considering his looks.
The supporting cast are uniformly good and packed with memorable characters: the hilarious Nicholas
Braun as Zack Attack, Lynda Carter herself as
Not Wonder Woman Principal Powers, Bruce Campbell
as Coach Boomer, Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson (Bus Driver), Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla.
Dave Foley steals every scene as All-American Boy.
The segregation of heroes and sidekicks is certainly a deep systemic problem in the universe of the film, and I’m glad the story emphasizes how wrong it is. I like that Will grows a spine and ends things with Gwen before the climax. I must admit, I didn’t expect her to be the villain the first time I watched it, let alone guess that she was Royal Pain; Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfectly convincing as the apparently genial and friendly popular girl.